Three convicted of £5m Gift Aid scam


Three men have been convicted of a £5 million gift aid scam in which a Coleraine man’s identity was stolen.

John Davies, 58, pocketed vast sums in tax relief paid by the government by organising Gift Aid repayments through the Sompan Foundation and Kurbet Foundation.

But many individuals said to have donated to the charities did not even exist, Southwark Crown Court heard.

His son Benjamin Davies, 31, was also found guilty of money laundering but daughter Melody Davies was cleared of money laundering and two counts of cheating the public revenue.

John Davies and a fourth defendant Olsi Vullnetari, 38, were found guilty of cheating public revenue and money laundering between June 2005 and January 2014 after a six week trial.

The court heard Sompan provides relief for women and children in poverty while the Kurbet Foundation focuses on the well-being of migrants.

Fraudulent tax repayments were claimed on behalf of the Sompan Foundation worth £3,294,450.43 between March 2007 and January 2014 while the Kurbet Foundation received £1,743,748.20.

Money was sent to 15 countries including Ireland, the US and UAE from the Sompan foundation with almost half the funds being diverted to Hungary.

The Davies family owned a holiday home in Balástya, Hungary, where a significant part of the money was sent.

Vullnetari had been a trustee of the Sompan foundation from November 2004 until January 2008 when Benjamin Davies became a trustee until he resigned in August 2012.

He carried out some of the transactions by “hijacking” the identity of Thomas Hamilton and had a fake passport which he used to pretend this was his true identity.

The real Thomas Hamilton was a vice principal at a school in Coleraine and was unaware of the charities until he was contacted by investigators.

Jurors saw a photocopy of a passport which held Mr Hamilton’s name but featured a picture of Vullnetari.

John Davies, of Mill Road, Esher, Surrey, Benjamin Davies, of Allanson Road, Manchester, and Vullnetari, of Charney Avenue, Abingdon, Oxfordshire will be sentenced on May 13.